Friday, October 16, 2009

Tips for Using Coupons


Once you've found your coupons, you're home free, right? Not so fast.

First, you need to organize them in such a way that you remember to use them. There are all sorts of different systems. See the links in my left column for some great ideas from various bloggers. Personally, I use a small photo album, using each window for a particular category of coupons.I also keep booklets I've gotten from various companies, like the Nestle and Nabisco ones in the photo above. Before I go shopping, I try to pull out any coupons I think I might use and put them in an envelope with my shopping list. This is especially important for the coupons in booklets, as they're a pain to clip on the fly.

Second, before you get in line at the store, check through your coupons. Pull out the ones you are using and make sure the items you've bought are covered by the coupon. Remember that you can use a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon for the same item at Target. Doubling up on coupons is a great way to save money, especially if your stores don't double coupons (mine don't).

As you get ready to check out, look for the right checker. Who is the right checker? You are looking for someone who doesn't have a long line. If you are buying alcohol, you want someone who looks over 21. You also want to avoid new checkers. At Target they wear "new team member" badges. Yesterday I made the mistake of going to a new checker, and he had to ask for help twice and failed to credit me for my reusable bags.

Once you've found your checker, arrange your coupons. Do not put in your credit card, as often checkers will forget to ask for coupons and finish ringing you up without asking for them. Put the smallest coupon on top so that small coupons don't get stuck to larger ones. If you have a lot (I've had 20 coupons in one transaction before), then hand them over to the checker in batches. Watch as they ring up. Target coupons often show up as "store coupon 0.00" on the screen even if they worked properly. Target coupons also have to be keyed in manually more than any other coupon, even internet printables.

Then hand over any gift cards you have, and you're done. Shopping at less busy times of day will help to keep your trips smooth. If you have to take a small child with you, stop by the bakery. Many stores will give your child a free cookie. Some stores, like Dominick's, have free cheese and crackers out in the deli. Either may keep your little shopper happy while you shop.

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